It’s Time to Try Defying Gravity


Dear Ms. Feverfew –

It seems that I set off a firestorm yesterday, unintentionally. I am not the type of person to go around picking fights with people and anyone who knows me would agree with this. After all of the happy-happy joy-joy adoption is such a gift and and a miracle blogs I have digested in an honest effort to understand where the typical LDS adoptive mother is coming from, if I really wanted to pick a fight about LDS adoption I could have and would have. But I don’t because as anyone who knows me would attest – that’s not how I roll. But…

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game
Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap!

Yesterday, Lola/Laura made several statements that really struck a chord with me. No, I am not talking about the personal attacks on my motherhood, my parenting, or my life – those I can frankly forgive because it is the standard party line response to any woman who dares to step out of line and speaks up about the pain adoption has caused. It is not just first mothers who encounter this, but enlightened LDS adoptive parents who understand that yes, their eternal family is built upon the ashes and remains of another family. It isn’t that these adoptive parents go around wearing sack cloth and ashes and rending their coat, but they at least acknowledge and accept this reality.  These kinds of adoptive parents are frequently met with the same vitriol that first mothers are when they dare question the status quo of infant adoption in the LDS community.  So, to make a short statement long – I don’t take those kinds of attacks on my parenting ability or familial relationships personally.

But back to the statements that did get me thinking. Towards the end of her first response, Lola/Laura said:

CLEARLY, you will continue to suffer as long as you continue to fight and rage against something that can never, and will never be different.

It’s the basic equivalent of being angry that humans have to breathe or that, I don’t know, gravity exists.

Don’t rage against what is. You will lose every time.

With this attitude of equating adoption with breathing and gravity, is it any wonder that Utah County has the highest surrender rate in the nation? Is it any wonder that many LDS first mothers feel marginalized or belittled by their culture? Is it any wonder that so very many of those LDS first mothers end up leaving the church in the long years post-placement? This attitude of “Don’t rage against what is. You will lose every time” is an all-pervasive belief that is riveted on the hearts of many LDS people.  As first mothers, both pre-surrender and post-surrender, we are met with this attitude on every front: Give up – it will never, it can never be different. You will lose very time.

It’s time to try
Defying gravity
I think I’ll try
Defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!

I wonder if this the same attitude that many of our black brothers and sisters were met with pre-1978 when they attempted to discuss the Priesthood. Were they told the same things? Were they told give up – you not having the priesthood is just like breathing or gravity. It will never, it can never be different. Stop raging against what is, you will lose very time.

In response to Lola/Laura’s comment, I wrote this:

However, you are right. Fighting for change in LDS adoption is like fighting against gravity. But just like we humans have been able to “slip the surly bonds of earth” and peer into the galaxies, I believe change can and will happen. The ability to defy gravity started with one apple and one man who was willing to look at things in a different way. It will be the same with LDS adoption. One apple, one person, one voice willing to speak out.  It might take 304 years before the equivalent of the moon landing happens in the LDS adoption world but change is happening, as evidenced by the changes in the official Handbook. Hopefully it won’t take that long but if it does take 304 years? It’s OK because in the end, time doesn’t matter to God.

I know I will be met with the sentiment as I try to defy this generational gravity in the LDS adoption culture. “Can’t I make you understand? You’re having delusions of grandeur” (Glinda, Wicked, the Musical) is pretty much what I was told yesterday. But that’s OK. Really. I cannot go back to sleep, anesthetized by the adoption fog that mercifully protects first mothers those first five or so years post-placement. I am fully awake and aware of the challenges and resistance I will encounter. However,

I’m through accepting limits
’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!
Too long I’ve been afraid of
Losing love I guess I’ve lost
Well, if that’s love
It comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down.

As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
Defying gravity
I’m flying high
Defying gravity

Much love and belief in your own attempts to defy gravity –

M.

P.S. Lola/Laura: I am grateful for your comments and for the opportunity to clarify my stance and position on this subject. Like I said before, I hold no ill-will towards you personally. I am sorry that it was such a confrontational encounter yesterday and I hope that today is a better one all around.

(Note: All quoted lyrics are from the song “Defying Gravity” in Wicked, the Musical.)

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “It’s Time to Try Defying Gravity

  1. I dont think you owe her an apology. Her sentiment is pervasive in the infertile pap world…and sadly, that attitude carried over when they sadly become adopters.

    She needed to see that her attitude is disgusting, as well as the comments from her clueless friends.

    I don’t apologize to these types any more. In the end, they will purchase a child at any cost and then continue on their yellow brick road pretending their purchased child will be different…no loss, no problems and all is well in Oz.

    And they think adoptlings and first Moms are bitter? Pffftttt. Their uterine envy is all encompassing. “I’ll get you, my pretty….and your little baby, too!”

    • Linda,

      It is pretty pervasive, I will agree. While I feel no need to apologize to her for calling her out on her “stinkin’ thinkin'” as my dear mother used to say, perhaps I didn’t handle it as eloquently as I could have and that is what my apology was for. On the up side, Lola/Laura did apologize for her glib attitude about young single expectant mothers. Additionally, she stereotyped them as being cute cheerleaders. I dare say that is a step above the “crack/whore birthmother” stereotype first mothers are typically met with.

      As an aside, in the LDS adoption world, it isn’t “Oz” in which all is well, it’s Zion. “All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well….

      Thanks again for your wit and your candor –

      M.

  2. Linda, you used the word in your other comment “adoptaraptors” and it made me laugh out loud. (As did adoptlings!) That word is truly accurate! Adoptive mothers, myself included, are preditory. I remember (with shame) when the agency called to say that we had been “chosen” (insert angel choir music hear) by a b-i-r-t-h mother, I was obviously thrilled. They told me she was due in a month, was 25, and already had a 7 yr old daughter. And I swear this as the sickening honest truth, that I actually asked the lady, “Is that daughter available for adoption too?” What other children can I devour??!!!!
    It’s gross and I am embarrassed by it.
    Luckily I am learning the effects of my naive and selfish behaviour and am becoming wise to the realities of adoption. Anyway, you nailed it! Adoptaraptors is perfect. Just thought I’d say.

    P.S. Now we do everything we can to keep our boys in touch with their older sister and help support her family members that are raising her. Other than just keeping them in touch with their roots and their family, my true hope here is that in the future these kids can lean on each other for support and swap stories about who had it worse. 🙂

  3. Linda,
    My sentiment is pervasive because NO ONE HAS EVER TAUGHT ME BETTER, not because I know better yet still choose to be “a piggy little jerk.” I have been reading adoptee blogs all morning and watching Nancy Verrier’s You tube interviews about her book Primal Wound, and guess what? It’s all NEWS TO ME! People DO NOT have this information, so how are they supposed to act any differently? I now have a much broader understanding of what Melynda was saying, and I’m certainly not done learning yet.

    All I am trying to say is: This form of pervasive thinking will continue as long as the Linda’s of the world continue to scream and call names rather than teach.

    And to be fair, maybe Linda doesn’t think it should have to be her job to teach “people like me” the error of their ways. t may very well be easier to judge, dismiss, and call us names… but if that’s her feeling, she shouldn’t be surprised when ignorance surrounding the various aspects and injuries associated with adoption prevails.

    And M,
    Again, I was saying that fighting the PAST and what has already happened in one’s life is pointless and much like resenting the fact that gravity exists. I never said that fighting for a better, more enlightened future was. The future is an open book, and as long as “people like me” are informed lovingly, and with care rather than judgment and disgust, I think you might be surprised at just how quickly the sort of change you hope for comes about.

  4. WOW! Freaky M… I swear I am not making this up BUT I had a dream about your blog last night so I came on here to check it out and wa-laa… you have been in the middle of this. Just so freaky that I dreamt of you!!!!

    I LOVE this song!

    As for the fighting the past/resenting gravity… hmmm. The thing is, to stop fighting the past, you have to accept ceertain things and our minds cannot accept that which we disagree with OR feel has no logic. Our minds are constantly trying to resolve things in order to move forward but sadly there are things in life which can never be resolved such as the loss of our children whether it be ‘willingly’, coerced or just outright against our will. This is actually something I spoke to a psych about because another psych had said something about living too much in the past and as usual, I want to know WHY I might do that in a practical sense. We went through everything that happened at the time and subsequent of my losing Amber and came to the conclusion because there was no logical reason for me to LOSE her, then my brain could not fully resolve it. Instead I have learned to accept that I cannot change what happened and that it is something which can never be fixed/healed. It is a loss that will permeate my every day life for the rest of my life as it is for others who have lost children.

    In the meantime because it was an injustice, I keep speaking out, just like you are doing M. Because speaking out about the evils and our stories IS the only way to teach others about what happened. If people TRULY want to learn what occurs in the real world of adoption then the only way to learn is by listening to you M and others like Linda… even if what is being said is not what they want to hear. It is not yours or Linda’s responsibility to always frame your message in the ways others want them to be framed… because you will not always please everyone. Bless you for being so compassionate.

    Much love,
    Myst xxx

    • Myst –

      Thanks for your comment, thoughtful and heartfelt, as always. I am so glad I have gotten to know so many wonderful first mothers like yourself, adoptees and adoptive parents through blogging. Makes me wonder why I didn’t start sooner!

      This compassion you speak of….it is borne of a deep desire to know about others lived experiences. You see, I have been many different women in this whole adoption discussion. I have wept for children my body cannot create and have had well meaning people tell me, “Oh, you can always adopt.” I have wept for a child I have lost to adoption, and I have wept for the loss of my family of origin as I made the decision to allow my step-father to officially adopt me. It puts me in a unique position to at least partially understand the feelings of many of those involved in the adoption constellation. It has helped me understand that each one of our stories is unique and important. Well, except for the stories that end up calling me or my adoptee & first mother friends mean nasty names. Hmmm. Now that I think about it, maybe those stories are important too since they often serve as a catalyst to help others decide upon which side of the adoption fence they sit.

      Much love,

      M.

  5. “My sentiment is pervasive because NO ONE HAS EVER TAUGHT ME BETTER, not because I know better yet still choose to be “a piggy little jerk.”

    Would you have wanted to be taught “better”?

    Would you really have to wanted to know any better? because there is no nice way to say what has been said – as it’s akin to trying to convince someone their deity doesn’t exist. There is no nice way to say “Adoption shouldn’t have to exist” because that, right there, is what “provides” babies for adoption and subsequently for building adoptive families.

    • Mei Ling –

      I do believe that Lola/Laura is trying to know and be better. She is one of the few out there in the blogosphere that has stuck it out and waded through a whole lot of difficult and unfamiliar territory. To her ever lasting credit, she didn’t just hit DELETE DELETE DELETE on our comments on her blog. She has offered (what I believe) are sincere apologies for her ignorance (which was not bliss). Coming from the LDS culture of “adoption, ain’t it grand?” this was all very new, very foreign, very difficult, and I am certain frightening at times for her to digest…but she is making an effort to hear and understand adoption from the perspective of adoptees and first mothers.

      In the end, isn’t this what all of us first mothers and adoptees are looking for? To have our voices heard, our experiences validated, and our stories valued? I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and allow her to grow “grace by grace, line upon line, here a little there a little” in her knowledge of “the other side” of adoption.

      I agree with you though…I don’t think there is an easy or best way to say to potential adoptive parents or adoptive parents, “Adoption sucketh.” Most will stick their fingers in their ears and go lalalalalalalala. But maybe some will listen…I think Lola/Laura is one of them.

      Much love –

      M.

      (P.S. Have I told you how much I love saying your name out loud? It sounds like poetry.)

  6. “Have I told you how much I love saying your name out loud? It sounds like poetry”

    *blush* “Mei-Ling” is pretty common name, although every native speaker (parent’s co-worker or some sort) has told me it’s a beautiful name. I like my sister’s name better, but hers doesn’t suit me, haha.

    Anyway….

    Yeah, I was surprised at Lola’s comment when she came back – I was reading it on my iPod and just blinking. Wow. But I am pretty impressed she stuck throughout all else. I was just stating that saying anything about loss in adoption can’t really be phrased nicely. I mean, you can’t just say to someone “Your child became yours because of social and economic privilege that someone else had no rights in.”

    Well, you can, but … it doesn’t work out very well and often results in confused expressions.

    (The response is usually something like “Well, adopting one child is better than NOT adopting a child and having them all languish, isn’t it?” to which I think, “Well, if we’d work together to STOP children ending up in orphanages, we wouldn’t feel the need to adopt on the basis of them languishing.”)

    No child appears out of thin air to be adopted. And it is true that some children need to be adopted.

    They shouldn’t “have” to be, simply because their families “can’t” raise them. It’s a system of inequality.

  7. I do wonder perhaps if Lola is able to accept these new truths easier because she is NOT looking to actually adopt.
    IMO it is much easier to open one’s mind to a new perspective when you don’t have something at stake.
    This is not to slam Lola at all. The change of heart is actually refreshing and not something that is seen very often in this adoption blogoshpere.

    • Yes, issy, I think this might have something to do with it. However, while she is not a stakeholder in the adoption constellation, she has (a) seriously considered it and (b) has many friends who are stakeholders – i.e., adoptive parents. I think that she (and other folks like her) might be key players in sharing the other side of adoption with others – it will be harder for people to discount the message because they will not be able to say, “You only feel that way because you are just a bitter birthmother/angry adoptee.” I don’t know…still mulling it over and trying to sort through it all in my mind at this point.

      I agree – it is refreshing to see both her change of heart. As I have gotten to know more about Lola, the more impressed I am with her ability to step back and take a second look. She’s quality people. As far too many of us have experienced, “we” (meaning first mothers and adoptees) are typically just told to shut up and move along if we ever speak out about the unspeakable. Indeed, it is a rare individual who is willing to reframe their way of thinking about a culturally ingrained practice like infant adoption in such a short time. It could have easily turned out to be something far more familiar and it is only because of Lola’s character that things didn’t continue down that not-so-pleasant-but-overly-traveled path.

      M.

  8. “IMO it is much easier to open one’s mind to a new perspective when you don’t have something at stake.”

    Definitely.

    • I agree 100%. However, as sociological research has shown, it sometimes takes people who don’t have anything at stake to start speaking out about injustices suffered by a segment of the population. When members of the marginalized group speak out, they are frequently discounted as being whiny, bitter, etc., etc., etc. Sometimes it takes people like Lola who don’t have a “dog in the hunt” to have their minds and hearts changed, who then say, “Waaaaaaaaaaaiiiiit one ever lovin’ moment here – this isn’t right.” Potential adoptive parents are much more likely to listen to her than they are to us because she is much more like them than we are like them (at least in their perspective). It sucks but it is human nature/the natural man.

      M.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s